Last month, I posted a blog regarding three things a family lawyer considers before deciding whether to take on a new client or case. Just like a lawyer, a client should also engage in certain considerations when thinking about retaining a family lawyer. In this blog, I will offer some questions that you should ask yourself, objectively, when searching for a lawyer or firm to handle your family law case.
Key Questions to Ask Yourself Before Retaining a Family Lawyer
1. Did You Find This Lawyer Online?
We have a number of people who retain our firm, sight unseen, based upon our reviews, or ratings, or other matters. Usually, this sight-unseen type of beginning to our relationship is based upon the internet and a search there. There is nothing wrong with researching the process of retaining a family law attorney or firm online, but the research should go deeper than the firm’s claims or implied claims about itself. Anyone can say that they are, for instance, “fighting for your rights,” but what does that really mean? Do you want an antagonistic “pitbull” type of attorney who may have already alienated the judge and magistrate, or who, because of his/her attitude will cause the case to drag out or be even more expensive?
First impressions are fine, in real life, but not to be trusted in what can sometimes be called advertising. The point here is that if you are searching for an attorney, and you are, for instance, using the internet, go deeper in your research and check out this attorney or firm’s credentials and ratings. How are the attorneys rated by different rating groups? If they have good ratings you can be sure they will tell you in their site. Are the attorneys reviewed by other attorneys or clients? If so, take the time to study the reviews.
2. Retaining a Family Lawyer Referred by a Friend
Friends and family members can be great sources for referral of attorneys or firms. However, you need to ask yourself if the friend or family member has actual experience with the attorney and what the basis of the experience is. Just because a friend or family member is familiar with an attorney name or firm name, does not qualify the friend to make a good recommendation.
If you have an attorney for another matter, or know an attorney well enough to trust a recommendation from them, attorneys can be excellent sources for recommendations. They may have worked with or against the other attorney at some time, or may know the attorney’s or firm’s reputation in the community for the quality of their work.
No matter how you find a potential attorney or firm, be sure to look into their experience and knowledge of the particular issues you have in your matter. If you are looking at a firm, see if other members of the firm also have relevant experience and knowledge.
3. Does Your Family Law Attorney Have Time for Your Case?
There are a large number of excellent attorneys and usually, excellent attorneys are very busy. Check to see if your potential attorney or firm will be able to dedicate the appropriate resources and time to your matter to get it done and get it done in a timely manner.
You probably can’t asses this time issue unless you talk with an attorney or talk with former clients of the attorney to see ow the time issue has been handled in the past.
4. Consider Communication When Retaining a Family Law Attorney
The ability of the client and the attorney to communicate excellently (no less than excellently) is one of the most important factors in an attorney-client relationship. You may be able to communicate better with one attorney than another and so it may be necessary for you to talk with several attorneys before making your decision about which to retain for your matter. Be aware of whether the attorney is listening to you (really listening and comprehending) and whether he/she talks with you in a manner that makes you able to understand exactly what he/she is saying. Does the attorney use “human language or talk to you using all types of Latin words, legalese, or incomprehensible concepts?
You need someone you can understand. You need someone who can lay out the pluses and minuses and orient you to your issue, its cost, and the manner in which it can be handled. You need someone who can tell you just what the boundaries of the case will probably be – in addition to what is expected of you as a client.
With good research and awareness of what you should be considering when choosing a family lawyer or firm, you are much more likely to have a great relationship with your lawyer and a better outcome to your case.